A little reflection brings some perspective. We’re 9 back in the loss column. It stinks right now. The Red Sox are playing terribly, the Yankees well enough to beat the Red Sox (and others) and extend their lead. The Red Sox are listless, prone to errors, undisciplined. The Yankees look like division-rival beaters. Francona looks like a serial enabler. Nomar looks like a minor-leaguer. Kevin Millar looks like J-League material. Pedro looks like a Yankee wanna-be.
Would I rather be up nine than down nine? No doubt. Would I rather have reasonable certainty that the Sox are going to be in the post-season than have to sit on pins and needles waiting for a wild card spot, risking utter disappointment? No question. But it’s July 1st. We won’t have a wire-to-wire division race. We won’t have massive Yankees-Red Sox drama during August and September. What we will still have is two teams and their front offices jockeying for available talent. We might have one team trying to offload their former all-star shortstop for a third starter and a farm gem. We will have August and September drama between three or four teams fighting for a vital playoff spot.
And what we still may have is an historic Yankees/Red Sox rematch in the playoffs. This isn’t resignation or concession, but pragmatism. This is simply a realization that the baseball gods no longer rely on division winners to be the champions. So we don’t win the division. If we make the playoffs, all this means is that my pre-season predictions regarding division winners were wrong. The Red Sox need to make the post-season, that’s it. If Yankees fans want to celebrate a division win, by all means they are entitled, whether it’s in July or September. But nobody should write off the Red Sox current sorry play as indication of a lack of October potential, or of inevitable Yankee victory, or of what will be. Ironically, the wild card dilutes the impressiveness of the Yankees’ performance right now. These are nice wins, satisfying I am sure for Bombers fans everywhere, but they might be as fleeting as the current losses turn out to be for the Sox.
William Rhoden, in the midst of a very good column in today’s Times drops one very brief, strong, and I think accurate, piece of criticism:
The only salvation for Yankees detractors is in the postseason, when New York will probably be undone by a team with speed and pitching. The Yankees are not kings of the entire hill, but they dominate half of it.
And you know what? Rhoden’s “only salvation” is the only one that really matters.
Chins up, RSN, nothing is decided. All we know is who is more likely to put up a meaningless banner.